Market failures associated with environmental pollution interact with market failures associated with the innovation and diffusion of new technologies. These combined market failures provide a strong rationale for a portfolio of public policies that foster emissions reduction as well as the development and adoption of environmentally beneficial technology. Both theory and empirical evidence suggest that the rate and direction of technological advance is influenced by market and regulatory incentives, and can be cost-effectively harnessed through the use of economic-incentive based policy. In the presence of weak or nonexistent environmental policies, investments in the development and diffusion of new environmentally beneficial technologies are very likely to be less than would be socially desirable. Positive knowledge and adoption spillovers and information problems can further weaken innovation incentives. While environmental technology policy is fraught with difficulties, a long-term view suggests a strategy of experimenting with policy approaches and systematically evaluating their success.
Jaffe, Adam B, Richard G Newell, and Robert N Stavins. “Technological Change and the Environment.” In Handbook of Environmental Economics, Vol. 1, edited by K-G Mäler and JR Vincent, 1:461–516. Amsterdam and Boston: Elsevier Science B.V. 2003.Abstract
Environmental policy discussions increasingly focus on issues related to technological change. This is partly because the environmental consequences of social activity are frequently affected by the rate and direction of technological change, and partly because environmental policy interventions can themselves create constraints and incentives that have significant effects on the path of technological progress. This chapter summarizes current thinking on technological change in the broader economics literature, surveys the growing economic literature on the interaction between technology and the environment, and explores the normative implications of these analyses. We begin with a brief overview of the economics of technological change, and then examine theory and empirical evidence on invention, innovation, and diffusion and the related literature on the effects of environmental policy on the creation of new, environmentally friendly technology. We conclude with suggestions for further research on technological change and the environment.
The relationship between technological changeand environmental policy has receivedincreasing attention from scholars and policymakers alike over the past ten years. This ispartly because the environmental impacts ofsocial activity are significantly affected bytechnological change, and partly becauseenvironmental policy interventions themselvescreate new constraints and incentives thataffect the process of technologicaldevelopments. Our central purpose in thisarticle is to provide environmental economistswith a useful guide to research ontechnological change and the analytical toolsthat can be used to explore further theinteraction between technology and theenvironment. In Part 1 of the article, weprovide an overview of analytical frameworksfor investigating the economics oftechnological change, highlighting key issuesfor the researcher. In Part 2, we turn ourattention to theoretical analysis of theeffects of environmental policy ontechnological change, and in Part 3, we focuson issues related to the empirical analysis oftechnology innovation and diffusion. Finally,we conclude in Part 4 with some additionalsuggestions for research.
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